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Gabby Petito memorial held for the public as Brian Laundrie manhunt continues

The public was invited to mourn Petito as authorities continue to search for her fiancé, named as a person of interest in her disappearance.
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Gabby Petito's family invited the public to a memorial for their daughter Sunday afternoon as the search for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who investigators have said is a person of interest in her disappearance, enters its second week.

The public was invited to Moloney Funeral Home in Holbrook, New York, from noon to 5 p.m., her father had announced. Mourners who gathered on Long Island included family, friends and Petito's former co-workers, as well as those who have been monitoring her case through recent headlines.

Lexi Ruiz recalled working with Petito at a cafe in nearby Patchogue that Ruiz managed.

"She was always willing to help someone else," Ruiz said. "She was just such a light. ... It's nice to see so many people come together and support her family."

Desiree Keeffe, a friend of Petito's mother, said Petito was a "beautiful soul."

"She gave you love," Keeffe said. "She was just a beautiful soul. She touched everybody like she did now."

Petito, 22, disappeared in August while she was living out of a van as she and Laundrie traveled across the country, documenting their journey on Instagram with the hashtag #VanLife.

Laundrie returned home to North Port, Florida, in their van without Petito on Sept. 1, and her family reported her missing 10 days later. Petito's mother said she last spoke with her daughter on a FaceTime call around Aug. 24 when the couple left Salt Lake City for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Petito also appeared to send a text message saying there was no service in Yosemite National Park, but it is unclear whether she sent the message.

Authorities announced last week that remains found at a campground in Wyoming were confirmed to be those of Petito. Officials said the manner of death was homicide; the official cause of death will be determined when an autopsy is completed.

Laundrie, 23, has not cooperated with investigators, police said. He disappeared about two weeks ago after his family told investigators that he had gone hiking in Carlton Reserve in Florida and never returned.

Flowers and photographs adorn a makeshift memorial dedicated for Gabby Petito in North Port, Fla., on Sept. 21, 2021.
Flowers and photographs adorn a makeshift memorial dedicated to Gabby Petito in North Port, Fla., on Tuesday.Octavio Jones / Getty Images

The FBI searched his family's home in Florida, where he and Petito had been living before their cross-country trip.

Laundrie has not been charged in Petito's death. A federal court in Wyoming issued an arrest warrant for him Thursday alleging use of "one or more unauthorized access devices," namely a debit card and personal identification numbers for two accounts.

Steve Bertolino, an attorney for the Laundrie family, said the warrant "is related to activities occurring after the death of Gabby Petito and not related to her actual demise."